TWO Bromsgrove sportsmen will be facing the world’s finest this weekend when they represent Team GB at the Special Olympics 2015 World Summer Games.
Basketball player Ben O’Brien, 22, and golfer George Brunt, 31, embarked on their trans-Atlantic trip of a lifetime to cover more than 5,000 miles to Los Angeles on Tuesday (July 21).
A total of 7,000 Special Olympics athletes from 177 countries will be taking part in 28 different games – there will be 115 athletes with intellectual disabilities attending from across England, Scotland and Wales. It is also anticipated there will be more than 500,000 spectators.
Their trips will all be funded by a £2.3million Government grant which was secured by Bromsgrove MP Sajid Javid.
Ben has been playing basketball for about three years and has also been training in athletics for the last 12 years since he first came across a special Olympics leaflet at his school.
Gail O’Brien, Ben’s mum, said she was very proud, adding her son was one of those people who was just naturally sporty and the fact he was 6ft 2ins tall helped as well.
She added he started quite young and had just kept it up ever since.
“I was shocked at how quickly he picked it up,” Gail said.
“When Ben first realised he was going to the Special Olympics he was really excited and a bit flabbergasted.
“Everybody is so proud of him – people have been ever so supportive.”
Gail said Ben, who has autism, had done a lot of training to prepare him and had gone on quite a few training weekends hosted across the country.
She added he also trained every week at the Ryland Centre.
Ben said: “I’m kind of excited, I’m a bit scared but I’m looking forward to going.
“I really enjoy basketball.”
George, who has Down’s Syndrome, will also be joining Ben. He has been playing golf for 13 years.
He is a member of the Bromsgrove Special Olympics Golf Group, the biggest of its kind in England.
Liz Brunt, George’s mum, said the group met at the Bromsgrove Golf Centre which had been absolutely magnificent in supporting them.
She added her son was very talented and also represented Team GB for his skiing, where he achieved a silver medal.
Liz said George trained very hard and went the gym at least three hours a week to lift weights.
“At the games he will be doing a nine-hole course on level four.
“I am so proud – it is such an adventure.
“George was absolutely over the moon when he found out he was going the Olympics – so excited.”